Sentimental Journey

Summary:
August 21, 2014: A routine flight to deliver a Russian dignitary to New York is interrupted by a ghost from the past.

30,000 Feet Above The Eastern Seaboard

A Blackhawk, Inc. private plane.


Characters

NPCs


Mood Music:


It isn't often that Blackhawk INC provides private flights for things that are not cargo, but they do have a small number of private jets in their hangars for such thing. And several teams of highly trained security specialists. Mostly ex-military and police officers. Zinda Blake isn't normally a pilot they call on for a job like this… or any non-PR related job, but as much as the company hates to admit it, and as much as they hate to pay the insurance costs that comes with having a pilot born in the 1920s in the cockpit, she's the best they have, if not one of the best in the country. The co-pilot is a bit of a formality at this point. She knows better than to ask who it is they're moving. If it's someone important enough for them to break this many of their own unspoken rules, she ain't askin' any questions that aren't on the lengthy pre-flight checklist to go over with her co-pilot- who, to her pleasant surprise, is one of Wen's grand-nephews. Nice to have family still in the business.

The takeoff goes real easy, even with some warnings about mildly unpleasant weather up ahead. The Citation X they're in is more than sturdy enough to keep the flight relatively smooth- or as smooth as a flight full of tense, guarded men surrounded whatever Very Important Person they've been assigned to protect as he tries to pretend this is just a normal luxury private flight. Toooootally normal. He tries asking one of them for a cup of coffee. There are no flight attendants on Blackhawk flights. Sorry.

The VIP's entourage is 99% 'people who are concerned with his safety and well-being' and 1% Winter Soldier. (Un)fortunately, distinguishing the one from the other is a tricky proposition: homogenity is a virtue amongst such prestigious security details, because each individual guard is meant to be an interchangeable part, just as capable of protecting their charge as any other person capable of filling the qualifications of the role. Builds, hair, even genders may vary, but for now, the Soldier is just another blank face in an immaculate black suit with his hair slicked and tied behind his head.

The detail's client is a Russian politician; the Soldier's is a gangster with a brother locked away in the old country and nothing to lose. All he has to do is bring the 'package' to a rendezvous with his employer so that he can have the leverage he needs; whatever happens to the pilot and the rest of the guards, happens.

"Don't trouble yourself," the Soldier says to the guard beside him - the one who was actually asked - while rising from his seat. "I'll see what I can find." And with that, he sets about scouting the plane until he has located a pot of coffee or come up empty-handed—and, more importantly than either, familiarized himself with the layout of this relatively cramped space.

"We're clear for now- no chance of any threats from the ground for another 300 miles," Zinda tells her co-pilot. "Though I've gotta run those weather conditions past the head of security face-to-face," she adds. "Flight deck's yours." She stands up, and heads out of that little sliding door that leads out into the main cabin. Coming face to face with a ghost.

The woman who stands before the Winter Soldier doesn't say anything, in fact, she really just looks… startled. Like she wasn't expecting someone to be standing there. Her mouth, wearing a shade of red lipstick bright enough to be 'retro chic,' hangs open a little. She's close enough that the faint cloud of Chanel No. 5 perfume (with a tinge of gunpowder, ever present on her uniform tunic) is distinctly detectable. Blue eyes, wide, startled. It's several long seconds before she can manage to say anything at all.

"B… Bucky? James?" Something has just gone very wrong.

SOME TIME AGO

"Oh, man," James Barnes whispers to himself as he settles into his cot. His arms are stretched all the way above his prone body, and a blue hat bearing a distinctive hawk's head emblem is carefully balanced in his palms. He doesn't dare grip his prize his prize any more firmly than this for fear of bending it, and - at least, until he has had a chance to wash the stench of combat from his body - he doesn't dare let it touch him either, lest his stink mingles with the scent of gunpowder and Chanel wafting throughout the bunk any more than it already has.

All it took was a case of beer swiped from the officer's mess; where it was before that, he isn't quite sure, but there's probably a bloody story behind it. Best to focus on the good luck it's brought him instead of the terrible fates suffered by its previous owners.

"Wonder if she'd gimme a dance if I snagged her a good bottle'a gin…" the boy dreamily ponders.

NOW

The Winter Soldier is mid-pour when the smell hits him; it's like wandering onto a catwalk in the middle of warzone, and he's so focused on the contrasting scents that under Zinda's disbelieving gaze, he manages to fill his procured mug to the point of overflowing. Lucky for him, it's gripped in his left hand; he won't even have to worry about the dry cleaning costs, since the uniform isn't technically his.

"Wh— " His eyes flick from his coffee-stained sleeve up to Zinda, who gets a flat look and a slight cant of the head in response to the name. She seems— surprised, yet confused; his fellow guards might not have names as far as his client as concerned, but /he/ took the time to learn a little about who he'd be working with, just to minimize confusion in his end. There aren't any Jameses among their ranks, and certainly no Bucks; he momentarily glances towards the other guards anyway, just to be certain before returning his gaze to Zinda, evenly saying, "Mm— no," and then turning his attention back to the coffee table. "None of those here; you may have gotten your flights mixed up." Does the client prefer cream and sugar? He didn't say; he probably assumes that his guards just /know/ these things.

"I'm sure that these things happen when you're a professional, though," he allows, dumping liberal quantities of both into the mug before giving it a swizzle. Despite the vapors hitting his nose as the coffee is stirred, though, that contrasting and— oddly comforting scent is about the only thing he can smell just now.

Zinda's hand is shaking a little. "Right. You just. Look a hell of a lot like someone I used to know," she says, twisting her body to slide past him and towards the Man In Charge of this operation, updating him on the possible weather situation. She's still pretty shaken up about that, though. He… couldn't be. Not after all this time. And… not with no memory of her, or his own damn name. She takes her cap off to run a hand through her hair, one of her few nervous tells. Something is really, really off here. She wishes she had a live comm to Oracle right now. Once her business in the cabin is done, she heads back towards the cockpit.

"I've got one of those faces," the Soldier allows with a furrowed brow and winkled nose. He's only a few steps behind her, with a steaming mug in toe; it's handed off to the guard whose errand he just ran, and then settles back into his seat. The pilot seems nervous; she couldn't possibly /suspect/ something, could she…? If so, she's doing an interesting job of keeping her concerns on the hush; the weather report, he's willing to reason, is probably not code for anything.

Either way, Winter Soldier doesn't remain seated for long; as soon as Zinda turns to head back to the cockpit, he stands back up, intent on stalking in there behind her. It's his best chance at getting to the controls; he'll do what he can to look like a dutiful employee right up to the moment of infiltrating the cockpit, but doesn't like his odds of making it in there without one of the other guards noticing. The best he can hope for is that getting in there and securing the door behind himself will be enough to effectively cut them out of the equation for now. Commandeering the plane is priority number one; once /that's/ under control, the occupants will be next.

In the Cockpit, the music of Glenn Miller can be heard playing, though faintly, so as not to disturb anyone in the cabin. The second any of the controls register anything out of the ordinary, the music will stop, but until then, she's got her playlist going to at least keep some sort of background noise going. Modern planes are just… so quiet compared to what she's used to. She's found she needs /something/ for background noise. She gets out of her seat again when the door slides open.

"Is there a problem?" she asks, frowning, and really studying his face. There's really- just… no way this isn't him.

"Well," the Winter Soldier exhales as he steps inside. The brass notes filling the rather small space deepen the furrows in his brow, and he actually has to give his head a quick shake before he continues, "Actually— yes. It's small, really - I wasn't even sure if I should trouble you with it…" He shifts his stance just so, positioning himself so that his back is pressed against the edge of the door. His tone isn't quite casual - there's a certain stiffness to it that is, perhaps, the product of a career spent watching silently in the background - but it is, at least, conversational. "… but my client— he is an important man. I have to make sure that he's happy."

More and more of his weight is brought to bear against the door as he speaks; he wants to nudge it closer and closer to its home until the two of them are sealed together in the cockpit, and while this isn't the stealthiest operation, he is hoping that whatever it is that has her so shaken up provides enough of a distraction to give him a chance at completing it before she raises any alarms.

"There are some concerns with the level of turbulence, his itenerary— " His eyes flick towards Zinda's MP3 player as a smooth, crooning voice joins the accompaniment. "— it's— starting to sound like he's unhappy with this whole thing. He's a very picky man."

"Flight plan was mapped out with the client himself, as far as I understand, and it has been explained to him- to minimize any possible threat from any possible- though unlikely strikes from the ground, as well as to minimize any turbulence. You can promise him that he has the two best pilots possible for this job, and a tiny bit of a bumpy ride is the worst he has to worry about here." Out of habit, she nearly brings her hand up to salute the man, but instead turns it into a tip of her cap. "You got my word on that, hon," she drawls, putting effort into sounding as casual as she can, when talking to someone she /knows/ has to be dead. Even Steve says she saw him die. But… die he really?

"As I said: very picky. Very prone to changing his mind; kind of a nightmare, if I'm being honest."

*CLICK!* the door goes as it's nudged into place.

"Which is why there are going to be some changes on this flight."

In the blink of an eye, his left hand moves from its place at his side to snag the pistol hidden beneath his jacket and take aim at—the co-pilot; getting rid of the /actual/ pilot is his initial instinct, and is certainly what he would have instructed any of the men and women he trained for the Soviets to do in this position. For some reason, though, as the brass and strings and Chanel filling the cockpit bombard his senses, the co-pilot ends up being the more attractive target. Maybe it's because he doesn't seem to be as easily shaken up.

Regardless, another click sounds, but no louder sounds emanate from the weapon— yet. Instead, he follows the warning with coordinates, and then commands for Zinda: "No radio. Steady speed; no heroics. Your family will see you again after I've gotten to where I need to be; do you understand?"

Now she knows it has to be him. The way he draws his weapon- faster now, sure, but there are some things that never change about a man's stance, the way he's first trained with a gun. But his voice. There's no Bucky in that voice. What… could do this to him? Slice out the man and leave the skills? But… he's not pointing the gun at her. Maybe… that means something?

"I'm more valuable to this company. If you want a hostage, aim your gun this way." She has no family. She knows her co-pilot does. And frankly, guarding whoever this VIP is just took a place on the backburner, even if it means never flying for Blackhawk INC again. "If you promise not to hurt any of my crew here, I will co-operate." Because she needs to live through this, she needs to get to Steve, and to Oracle.

"I don't particularly want a hostage; I want to be flown to those coordinates. Maybe you are worth more to your company; he, I'm thinking, is worth a lot to you, at least right now."

The Soldier's gun hand is as unwavering as his voice, but he's looking directly at Zinda instead of paying the co-pilot any mind. There isn't much room for him to run; he's not exactly worried about making the shot if it comes down to it. He can almost /hear/ his instructors screaming at him to just take her at her word, but it's easy enough to tell himself that he's sticking by his decision out of a desire to present a strong, implacable face to his captives and not because he's just plain reluctant to shoot her.

She's a war hero, or so his boss told him when he was being briefed on the mission; shooting her would undoubtedly bring heat on him that his boss would be less than thrilled to deal with. Plenty of reason to spare her, which is what he'll suggest to his employer if he's asked later.

"I won't hurt you, as long as you cooperate," he flatly assures. "Either of you." A beat and another glance to the music player later, adds, "Shut it off," tipping his chin towards the music. "It is— distracting."

Zinda nods, and reaches for the MP3 player controls. War hero. Woman out of her time. Can she stretch out forgetting how these danged gadgets work, fiddle with it a little- no, not with the tech level of the /plane/ she's currently flying. Cap can get away with those sorts of things, she can't. The music stops.

She looks back at him, trying to meet his gaze. Come on, Buck, there's gotta be some part of you in there. "Any changes to the flight plan have to be clared with the FAA, and the plane's only fueled for a certain distance. Were is it you want us goin'- if it's any further than what we're cleared for-" she starts to explain, trying to suss out if he's working alone, or does he have orders- it'd make sense for him to have someone pulling his strings. When someone took away her mind, for however short that time was, there was nothing she could do without an order, from her understanding. "Also? You really should'a double-checked the latch on that door." Is she bluffing? Probably, but if she can get him to look back just long enough to get her co-pilot out of the line of fire and just /try/ to get that gun off him-

"I told you where I want to go," Winter Soldier replies with a slight cant of his head. His eyes are empty as he meets Lady Blackhawk's gaze; any trace of the boy who once dreamed of asking the best pilot he'd ever met for a dance is gone. And yet, that smell— it teases him like the words to a song that he can't remember hearing, but refuses to vacate his thoughts all the same. At least the /actual/ music is off; his shoulders sagged slightly and he let out a small exhale when the crooning went away.

"It is not so far from where you would have gone otherwise; I'm not any more eager to be in a plane with an empty tank than you are." He doesn't try to provide answers for her other concerns, because not only does she move on to talking about the door before he can, he just doesn't have them— nor would he care to. His employer took care of those technical details during the planning stages of this operation, or so he assumes; all he has to worry about is seeing that plan through to the end. It would stand to reason that living the rest of your life as a traitor to your country and ideals is a supremely difficult thing, but it's actually pretty easy for the Winter Soldier: all he has to do is what he's told, and his country taught him how to do /that/ well before he was ever turned into what he is now.

The latch, at least, is the kind of concern that directly affects his ability to carry out the mission, and so when it's called to his attention, he glances over his shoulder to make sure that the room is secure. No sooner than he gets the latch in his sights, Zinda makes her move and tries to strip him of his weapon; despite the surprise, however, his grip on the weapon is ironclad—almost literally so. Given the scuffle, Zinda might even notice that his gun arm feels a whole lot more like the gun itself than, well, an arm.

"This— is not— co-operation— " the Soldier hisses as he grapples with Zinda briefly, trying to get control of her arms before just giving up in favor of attempting to shove her away from himself. "— Ms. Blake."

Whether she's away from him or still, stubbornly close, he'll attempt to point the gun at her co-pilot again right about then; the only difference is that he'll cross the cockpit to do so from about half a foot away from the man if he was able to shove her away. Either way, the implicit threat is accompanied by an explicit one: "Will the FAA take care of this man's family when he's gone?"

"You'll have to excuse me," she says through clenched teeth. "This is my first hijacking. Don't know all the steps yet. You'll have to lead a little more gently."

She'd put up a good fight- even giving that flimsy, if firmly latched door a good kick. Hopefully, it was a solid-enough one to maybe hint to the other Blackhawk security employees that there's a bit of a situation up here that she could use a hand with. Though… God, please don't shoot him, she finds herself thinking. She's convinced, at this point, that it really /is/ him. Please, let her have just a story to go back to Steve with, not a body. The Army never did find his body, did they?

"And c'mon, you know I was never one for followin' orders to the letter," she tries. Hell, half of the reason she was in the Blackhawks in the first place was for not listening to their leader the first two times she saved their asses. Can she get him to remember… anything? "Blackhawk used to say that if I /listened/, I'd have never left the homefront. 'Course, that was when he /wasn't/ angry at me for somethin' or other…" She tilts her head a little at him. "You don't remember the time I let you an' Toro split that bottle of gin? Figured if you were old enough to be fightin'…"

Winter Soldier had been banking on the pilots being so shaken up by the sight of a gun that they'd do what he told them. Actually shooting someone was meant to be a last resort, because gunfire would almost certainly mean guards; shooting his through a bunch of hostiles in a metal tube as it hurtles through the air is, at best, a tactically undesireable proposition. The coordinates points somewhere that Zinda is likely familiar with: a small airfield in upstate New York that's popular with frequent charter fliers thanks to its picturesque surroundings and proximity to popular vacation spots; half the point of bringing the plane there was giving the Soldier and his boss' other employees a relatively quiet place to deal with the guards.

So of course, Zinda went ahead and summoned them anyway; his head snaps towards the door when it's struck, and even as he advances on the co-pilot and comes ever so close to jamming his gun against the man's skull, his eyes dart around the cockpit in search of parachutes.

"The first time I saw you, you were a picture in a dossier," he hisses as his other hand shoots up to briskly rub his nose. He's never even /had/ gin—at least, he doesn't remember ever having it, which makes the hazy thoughts of juniper filling his nostrils and warming his belly swirling in his head all the more confusing.

"Whatever time you think you're buying yourself right now— "

Instead of finishing his statement, he just seizes a clump of the fearful co-pilot's hair and slams his head against the console. /Now/ the gun is wedged firmly against the man's temple.

"/Fly the plane, Ms. Blake/," he demands, fire creeping into his tone as he narrows his gaze on her.

Just then, there's a knock at the door, followed by a voice: "Is everything alright, Ms. Blake? We heard something out here…"

The Soldier's eyes return to flicking around the cabin at that; he's definitely running out of time, now.

"You /really/ sure about that," Zinda asks him. "They're not gonna be happy if I just yell back to 'em. They're gonna wanna come in here and check. Put the gun away, Buck. Let me help you get out of… whatever this is. Come on," she pleads with him.

Her poor, confused co-pilot let's out a confused yelp of "Zinda, what the /hell/ are you /doing?/. Just do what he says," which gives her pause. "We're fine," she calls back. "Just gotta make that flight change we talked about. We'll be landing in New York like we talked about. Clearing it all up now." Except that flight change she talked about with the head of security didn't change the destination at all. But does the man with the gun know that? She picks up her radio, and starts clearing plans for his desired destination, as much as she hates to do it.

"Don't let them know you hesitated," she says when she puts the radio down and takes the controls.

Right about here is where the Soldier might consider making good on his threats in a last ditch effort to force Zinda to play ball, if only because he doesn't have much to lose at this point. At this range, he isn't particularly concerned about the bullet ending up anywhere but in the co-pilot, and the game is basically up; the guards could come in at any moment, and he'd rather the plane be headed in the right direction /before/ they burst in, so as not to waste fuel.

Not that he'd be expecting to make it all the way to the airfield, but the closer he can get before bailing out, the shorter he and the politician's eventual hike would be.

He /would/ make good on his threat, except Zinda. Keeps. Talking to him. Keeps pretending that she /knows/ him. Keeps trying to distract him with her perfume, her music, her voice…

"SHUT. UP." The Soldier's bellow slices clean through her pleas, and he whirls to face her as he gives the order. Far more dire than the sudden addition of, well, any tone at /all/ to his voice is the gun, though: he pulls it away from the co-pilot as he turns, true, but this is only because he means to strike Zinda across the face with the butt of it.

"Ridiculous— " he sputters as the guards outside pound on and shout through the door. Whether or not he actually connects, his next move is to snatch a parachute and sling it over his shoulders. All the while, he rants, "— American— you were a /tool/ to get me where I needed to be and discarded! You don't know me— " As he works the second strap into place, he twists to take aim at Zinda. Beads of sweat are popping out all over his brow now, and his eyes, while still devoid of any sign of the passionate young soldier she once knew, are wide and frantic. "— you're /nothing/ to me!"

"Ms. Blake!" one of the guards outside yells after a hard blow rattles the door. "Sit tight, we're coming in!"

She can't move out of the way of that strike, not when the hand holding that gun isn't flesh and blood, but she knows enough to move with the blow, to lessen the damage, flying back off her seat and into the side panels of the flight controls. "Don't fire!" she shouts at the men about to burst in. "Not in the goddamn plane! /Especially not in here/." as if she needs to remind them of that. At least, that's the reason she gives them. "Get /down/" she mouths to her co-pilot, who at least listens once the gun isn't held to him.

"I don't know you? Then how come I know you got a clump of scar tissue right /here?/" she asks, kicking at a very specific spot below his right knee. "I stitched the damn thing up myself, I was a /shit/ field medic," she says, just before the door bursts open, and the first of the Blackhawk guards files in. This is one of those moments where he really will have a the ability to fight off his opponents one at a time, save for the woman still awkwardly getting up off the floor- there's no way for more than one of them to get in here at a time.

Zinda kicks the Soldier /right/ where his records show he was shot during a messy extraction in Afghanistan, and that leg buckles instantly. It isn't a crippling blow, not by a long shot, but it's /very/ well-aimed; he has to brace himself against a console to make it back to his feet without delay.

"Lucky guess," is the best explanation he can offer before the door opens. After swapping the gun to the other hand, he grabs the second parachute and hurls it at the first guard through with enough force to crack ribs. Instead of lingering to argue further with Zinda afterwards, he opts to just lunge at the next guard and club him with the end of his pistol.

Sticking around in the cockpit would give him the advantage of taking them on one by one… except he'd still have to contend with Zinda at his back in that confined space. Given a choice, he'd rather punch, claw, and pistol-whip his way through them until he can reach the door— preferably with the VIP in tow. They'll only have the one parachute between them, but he should be strong enough to keep the other man secure. Hopefully.

"I said, don't shoot!" he'll hear Zinda from behind, as she grabs one of her own men as he reaches for his gun to aim it at the retreating Soldier's back. Either she just saved his life, or she /really/ doesn't want to deal with damage to her plane. Maybe both?

Bad enough she has to deal with the depressurization when he jumps out with the goddamn target. Shit. At least there's a team of people trained to deal with that kind of thing- soon, they have the emergency exit closed, and they're dealing with the fuckup of all fuckups, and on their way to the nearest possible airport to deal with the /kidnapped political official/. Zinda… should probably care more about that than she does.

The fleeing Soldier casts a brief but bemused, almost questioning look back at Zinda. Did she just— is she really /that/ committed to her ruse? It hardly makes sense; he's already leaving! Maybe it's just a matter of saving on unnecessary repair bills; that, at least, he could respect.

Even without firearms in play, he doesn't make it to the VIP unscathed: by the time it's down to just him and the guards flanking the official, an entire sleeve of his jacket is missing and he's favoring his left side. Without moving his other hand from his tender rib cage, he curls his left hand into something like a claw and thrusts it towards one guard's head. Electricity crackles along the length of his arm in the brief moments before contact, taking /that/ sleeve out too; as soon as he latches onto the unfortunate bodyguard, he wrenches the violently twitching man in the way of a punch from the other, then shoves both of them aside to clear the way.

Mercifully, he snatches the VIP's arm in his /other/ hand before forcing the plane's door open and bailing out; sometime after jumping, when his stronger arm has cooled, he'll shift his cargo over to it.

"It's going to be a long walk, comrade!" he exclaims over the wind whipping at them. "But don't worry: I'll make sure you finish it!"

It probably won't be a very fun landing either, but the other man will discover that soon enough; he isn't looking forward to any of it, but the hike, at least, might just be long enough for him to forget the smell of gunpowder and perfume.


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